Does demolition need planning permission?
- By: Ashley Saunders
- February 2021
You might wonder, does demolition need planning permission? It’s a seemingly simple question. And yet the answer is complex as the law covering demolition is unnecessarily very complicated.
In England and Wales, you might need planning permission depending on whether you intend to demolish the whole or part of the building. It also depends on the building’s size, if the building is listed or in a Conservation Area, and the environmental impact demolition will have.
Under planning law, if you act without consent, you could be forced to re-build the building or could face criminal liability. Here are the rules you need to follow when thinking about pulling a building down. So, does demolition need planning permission?
Demolition small buildings
The majority of small buildings in England and Wales don’t require planning permission to demolish them, providing they are not listed or in a Conservation area. Also, the external volume of the building must be under 50 cubic metres.
If you’re unsure, call or email your local planning authority as they will be able to give you a clear answer.
Listed buildings and Conservation Areas
If the building you’d like to demolish is either listed or a Conservation Area, then the rules become much more complex.
You will need Listed Building Consent to demolish of any listed building or building within the curtilage of a listed building.
For unlisted buildings in Conservation Areas, the requirements depend on whether the building is in England or Wales.
In Wales, you don’t need planning permission to demolish buildings in Conservation Areas. If the volume of the building is more than 115 cubic metres, then you must apply for Conservation Area Consent.
The picture is different in England as Conservation Area Consent no longer exists. You must apply for planning permission before the demolition of any buildings in Conservation Areas.
You might also require other relevant consents, such as for buildings listed as Scheduled Ancient Monuments or certain other buildings.
In Wales, under permitted development rights in most cases, you can demolish the whole building without needing planning permission. You need to apply to the local authority beforehand for their prior approval of the method of demolition.
However, there is one exception to this rule. You must apply for planning permission if the building is unsafe or uninhabitable due to deliberate action or neglect by anyone with an interest in the site, and the building could be made safe through temporary repair or support.
The situation is similar in England. Under permitted development rights, in most cases, you can demolish the whole building without planning permission. However, you must apply to the local authority beforehand for prior approval of the method of demolition.
That said, there are a few exceptions that require planning permission, including:
- The building is unsafe or uninhabitable due to deliberate action or neglect by anyone with an interest in the site, and the building could be made safe through temporary repair or support.
- Or the building is a pub, which is listed as an Asset of Community Value and it is within the specified time limit.
If demolition of a whole building is required urgently for health and safety reasons and you therefore can’t comply with the requirement for the prior approval, then you need to provide the local authority with a written justification as soon as possible.
Demolishing part of a building
Confusing the situation somewhat, permitted development rights only cover the demolition of whole buildings. So, if you’re planning to demolish part of a building, then you need to apply for planning permission as it’s considered to be a structural alteration.
What other factors should I consider?
While you might not need planning permission to demolish a building, you should still consider if any other consents are required. For example, you might need a Party Wall Agreement and Buildings Regulations Approvals.
If your demolition poses a signification impact on the environment, then you will also need an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). If a full EIA is required, you can’t rely on permitted development rights, meaning you require planning permission for the demolition.
How Much will it cost?
Demolition costs can range from £2,000 to pull down a wall, ready for an extension, to £15,000 for demolishing a substantial detached property. As with any build cost, you should compare at least three quotes.
Another factor to consider is how much materials can be salvaged and resold as this will mitigate at least some of the demolition costs. Typically, a demolition contractor will estimate the value of any salvage items and offset this against their quote.
A large part of the demolition costs is landfill and haulage. So being able to reuse or dispose of non-toxic waste on-site can save money. Existing service connections to electricity, water and sewerage, and highway connection can usually be reused, providing a significant saving over developing a green plot.
How Long Will it Take?
The timescale for a contractor to complete demolition work depends on the scale and complexity of the building. That said, usually, demolition takes between four and eight days.
For semi-detached or terraced property, the adjoining buildings will require additional support after completing the demolition work, which will add to the cost.
Issues such as removing asbestos, for example, can complicate things further and add significantly to the cost as you’ll need to employ a specialist contractor to carry out the work.
Penalties for demolishing without the right consent
If you fail to comply with the law and demolish a building without the necessary consents, your local authority may serve an enforcement notice. You could be required to re-build the building and could even face criminal sanctions.
You should, therefore, call your local planning authority before undertaking any demolition work. Also, you might want to employ an architect to advise you on the law and regulations in your area.
So, Does demolition need planning permission?
The law surrounding demolishing a building is not clear-cut, and there are several issues to consider. Even if you’re looking at redeveloping a brownfield site for self build project, then you need to consider the planning process and engage with the Local Planning Authority.